Unless you’re completely stupid, you’ve probably figured out by now that I’m not Christian. But yet, I have no trouble celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day. I don’t celebrate it for the same reason Catholics do–in fact, even before I walked away from the church, the primary gripe in the church was that St. Patty’s day had lost it’s original purpose, instead devolving into a day of decadence and partying.
Then again, even as a kid, I always thought Saint Patrick was a pooper. I mean c’mon. What’s there not to love about serpents? Later on, when I figured out that the serpent-thing was a metaphor, it didn’t really change my opinion of him much.
But really, why all the Pagan outrage?
For one thing, it’s a fact of life that religions subjugate each other all the time. The conquering religion forms a festival around it. Ancient Pagan festivals were rife with that sort of thing. You could argue that St. Patrick’s Day shouldn’t be celebrated because it recognizes the subjugation of one religion over another, but really. Nowadays people who celebrate that holiday aren’t even Christian, let alone Irish. All they care about is luck, shamrocks, green food dye, Irish heritage and Boondock Saints. And really, what’s not to love about that?
On the other hand, I don’t go around yelling at Muslims for celebrating Ramadan, for instance. So, let the Catholics have their holidays. As long as they don’t go out of the way to put a stinker on my festivals, then I’m not too concerned. Of course, one could say they would like to try–but I’m typing from a America-centric perspective here. America is ass-backwards when it comes to quite a lot of things, but in the end, we are relatively free to do as we please. The Religious Right doesn’t just go around trying to ruin a pagan’s good time.
Just the other day, I had someone add me on Twitter who listed “spiritual tolerance” as an interest, and yet updated for the day that she was “Busy pissing the non-pagans off”. How this classified “spiritual tolerance” was beyond me. And yet this is a prime example of quite possibly why we aren’t taken as seriously, and why we need to work on mutual tolerance and respect. My fiancee, who is European, frequently reminds me on how shocked he is that people in this country are allowed to be so openly rude to each other on the basis of religious affiliation. No, I’m not just talking about the Christians here. Everyone.
Now granted, there are religious groups I, quite simply, do not agree with. But for the most part I ignore them, choosing the “live-and-let-live” principle. Unless of course someone openly comes out to harass me or compel me to convert (Jehova’s Witnesses at my door, for example). I don’t busy myself with pissing anyone off simply because I do not agree with their way of thinking. To be honest, I have better ways to spend my time.
This is precisely why I don’t choose to get upset about St. Patrick’s Day. I simply choose to reclaim it for myself–a celebration of my Irish ancestry, good beer, good movies and friendship. I do not agree with the Catholic spin on it, so I simply choose to ignore it, and reroute it for my own uses. When the Catholics celebrate St. Patrick’s Day they aren’t beating us out with sticks or preaching at us–they’re probably at church, waiting for the priest to finish the homily so they can spill out into the bars (well, if they’re Irish at least). Pretty harmless, in my book.
I’m also not saying we shouldn’t forget the past, or what happened. But what you make of it is a choice. People can choose to be offended by it, or people can redirect it and turn it into a celebration. Paganism isn’t one religion but a conglomeration of many religions. If everyone stopped to focus and be offended by every religion that suffered a blow in the past by every other religion, we’d just spend the whole time sitting around being pissed off at each other. Remember the past, but learn from it. Don’t repeat it. Talk to a Catholic friend, get their perspective. Donate your time to a Celtic Reconstructionist group. Know what it is, and why you’re getting passionate about a thing.
Personally, my day was spent running around like a chicken with my head lopped off at work, followed by a fun evening with my fiancee watching the Boondock Saints and listening to the Dropkick Murphys. Good stuff.
This post is mostly a collection of links and curiosities relating to this holiday season.
Mentioned by a few other sources, but this link directly from my German husband: Goat-Headed Christmas Cheer: Run Kris Kringle, Krampus Is Coming! This article gets into the tradition’s pagan roots a bit:
Depending on who you believe, Krampus is very old indeed. Some say the tradition stems back to the pre-Christian era, and that the Krampus known and feared by Austrians today is a version of an ancient god incorporated into Christian holidays.
Spiegel.de is becoming one of my favorite international news sources, and especially their Europe’s Weird Ways section makes for particularly interesting reading. Take, for example, the article on the Greek ‘Kallikantzaroi’ and their ancient pagan roots. There’s also Italy’s Christmas Witch, delivering presents on a broomstick. Somehow Kiki’s Delivery Service comes to mind.
And finally, Winter Solstice has arrived! Whatever your ‘reason for the season’ may be, I hope everyone reading this has a great holiday.
I’m backlogged on the things I really want to write about in here. Part of this is being highly engaged with things going on in my life right now (not a bad thing), but also needing to become more disciplined in handling time and other such things. Procrastination happens to be one of my weak points.
It’s Thanksgiving here in the U.S. Today I get to reflect on all the things I’m thankful for–which are a great many things, really. I do consider myself a very wealthy person, even if I do have the occasional moth or two fluttering out of my wallet. Given the way the economy has been, I’m surprised–more like thankful, that it isn’t a swarm. See, when I look around me, and see oh, not the material things, but the emotional, how can I say I’m not? Yes, I’ve got a great many struggles to overcome, but the fact that I seem to be moving forward instead of backward should speak for something, right? I think it does. The material wealth pales in comparison to one’s emotional wealth.
Technoccult posted a good article on the nature of forgiveness which is a good thing to reflect on today. Well, at least for me it is. I won’t deny that I have a habit of holding grudges, and some of the latest work I’ve been doing involves cutting myself free of those grudges, or transmuting them into something else. This is an ongoing process of course, and I will say with no shame that there are some people in my life I will not be able to forgive, that I even have feelings of bitterness or hatred towards. These are normal human emotions that, instead of being confined or denied, should be acknowledged for what they are, and worked through without condescension or shame. Because sometimes “just getting over it” isn’t enough.
In that, I am thankful for the person I am today. Looking back in time at the angry ball of rage I used to be, I’m surprised everyone around me hasn’t flown the coop already. Man did I have some issues. Well, I still do. But I guess it depends on what and how I choose to transmute those issues into. If life gives you lemons, you can either make lemonade or squirt it into your enemy’s eye, but whatever you do, never content yourself with just sucking on bitter juice.
On that note, I’m going to gorge myself on food. For all those reading who live in the States and/or celebrate Thanksgiving, hope your day is a plentiful and peaceful one.